Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Landscape Lighting FAQ (& a weekend trip)

Hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Ours was certainly "memorable"...

And here we are, it's coming straight at us...

But alas, we were spared from any real damage. It wasn't actually as bad as we had anticipated... although it didn't officially hit until after midnight so we slept through the worst parts.

There were fallen trees, some flooding, debris/branches/leaves scattered throughout yards and a few power outages, but that was the extent of it (at least in our area). We were most worried about our two little baby palm trees that had just been planted, but surprisingly, they held up!

Here's a mid-storm shot of some flooding in our backyard:

 Unfortunately though, there was one casualty. It wasn't even the storm's fault, either. Our friend was helping us prepare by moving the outdoor furniture inside (it wasn't even necessary but he insisted), and dumped an umbrella full of old dirty water onto our sunroom rug.

RIP, Egeby. Fortunately it was only $30 at Ikea. I already have an idea in mind for the perfect replacement. More on that soon.


I'll get to our yard lights last, but first, I wanted to share some photos from our 3 year Anniversary trip.

We booked a night at a Bed & Breakfast about 45 minutes north of us, in a cute little town called Fernandina Beach, located on Amelia Island. We headed up there Saturday morning (only had a chance to stay for 24 hours as the storm was coming in Sunday).

The town is very quaint and historical, and we loved wandering through the streets, admiring the old architecture.

Here's the actual B&B we stayed at, Blue Heron Inn.

It was built in 1804 and the owners did a wonderful job of restoring and adding their own touch.

Here was the room we stayed in:

I loved the tall ceilings and the molding.

Our cute pink bathroom:

At dusk, they invited the guests to happy hour out on the patio. That was our favorite part.

Here's a few other neat houses we walked past...

This one had walls made out of recycled seashells!

This one had carousel poles as banisters for the porch...

This one was for sale. I looked it up and it was just 422k (3+2 3100 sf). Even in this desirable area, Florida is cheap!

I also found not one, but my two new favorite stores.

They were both large buildings set up as consignment shops, with different sections for each owner.

I was in beach-rustic heaven.

If I didn't already have a large wall map in my living room, I would have snagged these nautical charts up in a hot second and framed them as a gallery wall.

I loved the way they hung these book pages from the branches... kind of like a beachy Christmas tree.

I was so close to buying these awesome painted driftwood centerpieces... I just couldn't think of where I would put them.

And these vintage oars... be still my heart. $90 for the pair.

I loved this New Orleans bus roll.

Love, love love.

There was another consignment store, virtually identical to this one just a block away (Brad wouldn't let me go back and take pictures though), but it's called Eight Flags Antique Market.

I'm not one to buy anything unless there is a need for it in my home. (I hate clutter and extra "stuff").. so as much as I was obsessing over almost everything, I left empty handed. The good news is, they are only 45 minutes away so next time I have a decorating void to fill, I'll be back.

Finally, we made one last stop at one of Florida's oldest functioning lighthouses...

Fun trip! We'll be back soon.


And now, an update on our yard. Brad had ordered another set of yard lights and they arrived Friday, so we went ahead and installed them that evening in the new flower beds.

 Here's what the light assembly looks like:

 You thread the wire through the stake and secure it to the base, then stake it down into the ground.

 After wiring everything together, Brad mounted the control box to the side of the house (next to the current box that controls the existing lighting on that side).

Here's the palm tree bed light placement (4 lights and 2 spotlights)

Here they are at dusk:

Here's the full set of 8:

I get questions about this from time to time, so I thought I'd give a quick rundown of our yard lighting FAQ's.

1. All of our lighting is LED. We prefer this over solar and incandescent because a) solar powered lights are much too dim for our liking, and b) incandescent uses more power and can be costly to run.

2. Each kit (which contains 8 lights) costs under $4/year to run (that's if they are running all night).

3. We have 5 kits total between our front and backyards—4 just like the above (with 6 normal lights and 2 spotlights), and one of the kits are hanging lights that we use over our pond:

4. We purchased the kits at different times, from both Amazon and Ebay. Because of this, the costs varied, but they were anywhere from $60-$120 per kit. The pond lights are made by Westinghouse, and the other sets are made by Malibu, but both of these particular styles seem to be out of production.

5. Each kit uses its own transformer, so you must have an electrical source outside to feed the power.

6. Installation is pretty straightforward, but Brad did have to make splices between wires to get the lighting arrangement we wanted. There's somewhere around 5-6 feet of wire in between each light.

That about covers it. Let us know if you have any other questions and we'll do our best to answer.


My family is coming to town next week (all the way from California—it's the first time they are visiting the East Coast) so this week will be spent cleaning and preparing like mad.... which unfortunately includes some redoing of door handles. I'll be back with an update on how all of our spray painted ORB objects are holding up in the next post!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Adventures in Landscaping, Part 1

Remember when this happened a few weeks ago?

Aside from the new mailbox we had recently put in, this accident came at a pretty good time, as we were wanting to resod a few areas of our yard anyway. And now it was being paid for by the driver's parents :)

But when you give a mouse a cookie... he's going to ask for a completely relandscaped yard. So we went all out (and it's still not over yet... hence the Part 1).

First, the "Before" shots taken Friday morning:

Ok, this isn't entirely before... Brad put the mailbox post back in and threw down some landscape timbers along our property line

We figured we'd also patch up the backyard while we were at it...

Now that you have a good mental picture, fast forward to Friday afternoon.

The Mulch Masters were here, hard at work...

They started by removing all of the existing sod on the left side of the house (it was uneven when it was first installed).

We also decided to plant a couple Queen palms to fill in the void and help divide the houses a bit (and also distract from the horrid electrical box)

Here's a few hundred dollars in bushes and plants, waiting to be installed:

New sod in progress shot:

After all the sod was down and the trees were in, they called it a night:

Saturday morning bright and early, we got started with the planting.

After chopping out an old palm and trimming down a bushy tree, we installed the first row of bushes along the left side of the house:

These look small at the moment, but they are expected to grow nice and full and really fill in the area.

Next, we installed a row of shorter bushes in front:

Mulch Masters then came in and added fresh new mulch to the bed:

After the first area was addressed, we moved on to the next.

Brad bought a roll of weed liner/protector and we measured, cut and staked it in where our new flower beds would be:

I thought a flower bed in the mailbox area would be a nice touch as well.

Here's Brad, installing our new mailbox. Both the base and mailbox were purchased at Home Depot.

Neighbor Joe is hoping to launch his modeling career by be "discovered" on this blog

Then came the fun part that involved some actual creativity... arranging our new bushes and flowers in the beds. Here are the arrangements we settled on:

Once everything was laid out, we got to work planting.

An hour or two later, they were ready to go...

And some mulch for the finishing touch!

Meanwhile, on the right side of the house, new sod was being put in...

Along with a brand new bed of mulch for our trees:

At this point it was late afternoon and Brad and I were beat. We jumped in the pool while the guys resodded the backyard and made a nice new bed around our trees:

We still have some work to do back here, but it's so much better than before.

Soon after, we dragged our sore, sunburned and bug bitten bodies to bed to rest up for the final round of the weekend.

Bright and early Sunday morning, we headed back to Home Depot to get supplies for a pathway and landing area by the left gate.

We had to dig out the old dirt, cut out the weed cover and level everything out.

We picked up some stone edging pieces to keep the mulch in while providing a flat surface for the door to open onto (it kept getting stuck from all the crap that had built up on the ground)

After everything was leveled, we arranged 12" pavers into a square:

To hold everything together, we used paver sand between the seams:

After everything is covered, you lightly water the area once every 10 minutes (four times total), and you're good to go.

After our landing pad was set, I used 16" pavers to create a pathway along the side:

And the left side of our house was DONE!

Well.... almost.

We also picked up some edging to use around our mailbox bed, because it was higher than the curb and we needed a way to keep the mulch from spilling out.

It was about $15 for 20 feet... easy to install, and our problem was solved!

Brad wants to use them around all of our beds, but I'm still debating on if they are necessary or not. What do you guys think? Does it look weird if only one bed has them?

Next up for Landscaping Part 2 will include re-mulching all of our old beds... including this one up front:

And this one, which is currently halfway remulched...

And more clearing out/pruning of old plants, planting a few new bushes, and tidying up the backyard area. Brad also purchased some new LED yard lights for all the new beds so that will be hell fun to install.

I also have a new DIY driftwood branch experiment in the works right now... excited to see how this one unfolds. Stay tuned!